Friday, May 27, 2011

Touching the Soul

There are times when I think I suck as a writer.

I'm sure we all do. It's not unusual. Self doubt. It's a good thing. Keeps us hungry to improve.

I have talent. I'm not being proud or arrogant when I say that. I do. I'm not saying I'm more talented that other published or non-published writers, but I can identify that I do have a gift for imagination and, probably to a less degree that imagination, for putting words to page.

But then I come across something that truly touches the soul. Most often it's music for me, because I love music and I suck at it (completely tone deaf), but sometimes it is a work of art (for which I also have no talent), and other times it is a scene written so beautifully and filled with such emotion that it fills me up to the point of bursting. Usually it's sadness, but not always.

And that's when I feel like don't have that kind of talent. I've never managed that level of...whatever you call that. Inspiration? Being inspiring? I don't know. Capturing the raw beauty of life. Yeah, let's go with that.

Not everything we read or write or watch or listen to can or should do that, of course. But it's powerful when it happens.

A few of my test readers have told me my book did get them choked up and teary (at an appropriately place). I was little surprised, and pleased, that it did so--especially when they said they had the same reactions across multiple reads. But still, I know I didn't touch the soul, not the way I mean.

And I'm not sure I can.

Some examples, if I may.

Music, in fact, the very song that got me feeling this way right now, The Book of Love. This is Peter Gabriel's cover of the original. There are some other great covers out there, too, which does says to me how awesome the song is.

For a book scene, I'll just reference the most recent one I recall. It was a scene in The Hunger Games, but I won't go into details and spoil anything. I'll just note it deals with Katniss and a crown of flowers. The second book, Catching Fire, had a great scene that built off of this, too. Just amazing the affect those scenes can have. Powerful.

I'll also add that the TV show Scrubs did this amazingly well. Never have I seen a show range from such comedy to such intense emotion. So many awesome episodes. This particular video sums it up very well, I think.

I suppose it would be hubris to think I have or should be able to create something like that. It's a goal. A far reaching one, I guess. And maybe, if I'm really lucky and I work really hard, I'll create something in my life that touches someone so powerfully.

It's a hope anyway.

How about you? What stirs your soul? What drives you on to lofty goals?

will keep striving.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

And Now...Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Well, that was a bit of a hiatus. I don't think I'll win my official Blogger Cap with breaks like that!

It started with a week away from home for work travel. Our annual conference in Orlando. Good times! Got some sun, had some fun, ate some great food, and did a bunch of "video blogging"--they gave me a camera and had me roam around talking to people and filming my thoughts.

I feel bad for our editing guy--4 hours of me rambling. My voice will haunt his dreams.

The week after? I was just lazy, I guess.

OK, so back on track. Where am I?

I was rewriting. I trimmed the beginning--made a change that echoed throughout the manuscript and required a go-through to make all necessary changes.


And I'm glad I did it. I think it is a hell of a lot better.

And now, I switch hats. I go from author to editor and go back through and tear the whole thing apart.

Then I get some some lovely critical reviews from people other than myself.

But this is Now. Right Now. What we are seeing/doing is happening right Now. We are working on the Now, not the Then, and even though the Then will become the Now soon, it hasn't done so yet (and we don't want to skip a head to Then now cause that would be confusing).

So editing it is. As if I don't do enough of that at work.

did make a Spaceballs reference, yes. Thanks for noticing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Confession

This isn't easy to admit. But I feel like I need to get this out there or risk continuing deception to my readers. I probably shouldn't have kept this fact secret as long as I have. But I didn't feel comfortable revealing it before, and even now...I hesitate.  Pushing that friendly orange Publish Post button will be one of my Herculean trials.

Here we go.

No more procrastinating.


I play Dungeons and Dragons.

OK, that actually was pretty easy. I think D&D doesn't have the same negative connotations it used to have, and honestly, in my life, I am open about my gaming. I'm out there. I'm not "in the basement" like some people are. And I've already said I write sci-fi/fantasy here, so a littler nerdity is kind of assumed, right?

Even worse than just playing D&D, I play in two different groups. Worse still, I am the Dungeon Master (DM) in one of those groups. (Don't know what that is? Don't need to--I think you figured out from context that somehow the DM is somehow--improbably--nerdier then the rest of the group).

We all need out creative outlets, and D&D is one of those. I design adventures and monsters and characters in a vast, magical realm that I have created over years of playing. I even write short stories based on that world (though they are very much written to be non-D&D stories; no gaming background required, just a love of high fantasy).

D&D does take up time I could be writing. Last night, for instance, I spent a couple hours working on the next adventure, and a couple more hours will go to the same endeavor this evening. And then tomorrow, I'll spend an evening hanging out with friends, playing the adventure I created.

I could, perhaps even should, be editing. I could be working on my query and my pitch and my synopsis (I get chills just mentioning that bugger).

But we need downtime, right? Something to switch up the pace, to shift gears. Instead of tackling another short story or novel in order to take a break from the Main Book, I create adventures and then spend some times socializing--in person!--with my friends.  That's my creative outlet to the madness of writing a novel.

Anyone else got any "confessions" for their little outlets?

just wants to point out that the movie Mazes and Monsters starring a young Tom Hanks does a TERRIBLE job portraying a typical D&D game. The most glaring error is the lack of Mountain Dew, but there are so many I can't even list them all.